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Current and projected flood exposure for Alaska coastal communities

April 2, 2024

Globally, coastal communities experience flood hazards that are projected to worsen from climate change and sea level rise. The 100-year floodplain or record flood are commonly used to identify risk areas for planning purposes. Remote communities often lack measured flood elevations and require innovative approaches to estimate flood elevations. This study employs observation-based methods to estimate the record flood elevation in Alaska communities and compares results to elevation models, infrastructure locations, and sea level rise projections. In 46 analyzed communities, 22% of structures are located within the record floodplain. With sea level rise projections, this estimate increases to 30–37% of structures by 2100 if structures remain in the same location. Flood exposure is highest in western Alaska. Sea level rise projections suggest northern Alaska will see similar flood exposure levels by 2100 as currently experienced in western Alaska. This evaluation of record flood height, category, and history can be incorporated into hazard planning documents, providing more context for coastal flood exposure than previously existed for Alaska. This basic flood exposure method is transferable to other areas with similar mapping challenges. Identifying current and projected hazardous zones is essential to avoid unintentional development in floodplains and improve long-term safety.

Publication Year 2024
Title Current and projected flood exposure for Alaska coastal communities
DOI 10.1038/s41598-024-58270-w
Authors Richard Michael Buzard, Christopher V. Maio, Li H. Erikson, Jacquelyn R. Overbeck, Nicole E. M. Kinsman, Benjamin M. Jones
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Scientific Reports
Index ID 70253139
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center